My upbringing in Colorado ensured a fierce love for snow and all the ways to slide down it, a desire to spend most my time outside, and a refusal to sit in an office working the traditional 9 to 5 spirit-crushing job. My educational pursuits got me half the way, but my decision to do my internship in New Zealand has surely sealed my fate as a professional dirtbag living in paradise.
I'm Kaylee Pickett. I'm 23 years old and I studied Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism at Colorado State University, a program which emphasizes the ‘do what you love’ mentality by educating students on sustainability, resource management, tourism enterprise, and, of course, getting after it. I've been living in Kiwiland for 10 months now, and I want to talk to you about why you should visit New Zealand.
I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last few years, starting with a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain during my junior year of high school (16 years old), then on to Washington state, Utah, and back to Colorado to finish my undergrad.
Me? I set my sights on New Zealand and the universe carried me to the outdoor recreation mecca: Queenstown. I interviewed with several companies on both the North and South islands of New Zealand, and although they all offered something unique and interesting, none could compete with both the company I chose and the location.
So let's talk about why you should go to New Zealand.
For those of us who love snowboarding, rock climbing, and hiking, or pretty much anything to do with the outdoors, I think New Zealand is always in the back of our minds as the place.
Queenstown, in one word, is paradise. Nestled next to the largest fresh water body of water I’ve ever seen and tucked between some of the steepest peaks on the southern hemisphere, QT provides on all cylinders. The Remarkables and Coronet Peak skifields are within 30 mins drive and deliver awesome on- and off-piste terrain as well as a community of skiers unique to such a small town. City Centre, adorable, clean, and safe, is a collection of delicious restaurants, high-adrenaline tour operators, retail shops, and lots and lots of bars. The population in town is a collection of locals, those here long term, skiers here for the season, and tourists. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone not stoked out of their mind to be here; the atmosphere in town is unlike any place I’ve ever been.
Life in NZ
My reason for heading to New Zealand? Well I am hoping to glean a living from a life in the outdoors. Spend my time in the place that makes me the happiest - outside! I knew to get a foot in the door to the adventure tourism industry I needed some solid skills and some recognised qualifications. Activities like abseiling off 100ft cliffs mean you really want to know your knot from your what not to knot, and many other rock-solid good skills (ha).
That lead me to Pure Exploration and their Adventure Guide Program (AGP). The AGP was everything I needed. 12 weeks of technical skill based training on hiking, rock climbing, outdoor survival skills, swift water rescue safety, Wilderness first aid, guiding training, all completed while exploring the unbelievably epic New Zealand back country on numerous multi-day adventures, road trips and explorations with my new AGP mates. We then completed our NZOIA guiding qualifications and had some solid real world industry work experience with local adventure tourism companies. Literally I got every tool I needed to get into the industry. Obviously you need to work hard, but like anything in life the graft was worth it and I now work and live in Queenstown, guiding groups from Climbing Queenstown (who I met through Pure Ex), and living the dream!
I’ve lived and worked in Queenstown for 10 months now, and it just keeps getting better. The world opens up when you say yes – yes to a storm-chasing road trip, yes to jumping in the lake during winter, yes to a night out with the people in your hostel, yes to any opportunity that comes your way!
New Zealand truly has something for everyone. The North Island has beaches, surfing, and the largest city in the country. The South Island bodes tons of resort and backcountry skiing, insane places like Fiordland National Park, and a laid-back vibe only Kiwis can provide.
Anyone looking to do an internship/ semester/ general amazing trip abroad can rest assured that New Zealand will not only meet, but exceed, any and all expectations. Gain valuable work experience in an English-speaking country that’s home to endless outdoor opportunities, wildly interesting people from around the world, and the chance learn what it’s like to live and work abroad.
Come join the fun!
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